Always fun to cover the guys who made Lisbon wrestling, well…Lisbon wrestling, past and present. They are a perfect example of what a wrestling program/community should strive to be and Casey Baxa represents them well!!! For those of you who have not witnessed it, Lisbon HS has a cool hallway with several wrestling podium pictures and 8X10 photos of All-State althletes from other sports. I always wondered if the wrestling shrine prompted any Lisbon kids coming up to give the sport a try.
Remember the Wrestler: Casey Baxa, Lisbon
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
Growing up in Lisbon was enough to encourage me to wrestle. I think I was 5 or 6 years old when I first walked the Lisbon Hall with all of the state champions and place winners on the wall and immediately wanted to get my picture up there with them.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
My dad and brothers never really wrestled. My wife and I have 3 daughters who like wrestling, but would never compete.
What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
I didn’t really get wrestling at a ton of tournaments until about 6th grade. I remember really starting to take it serious around that age. As a kid I played a bunch of sports and activities. The best I placed was 7th at AAU state 8th grade year. Tony Brown won my bracket.
What was your record in HS?
How did you place at state every year?
Freshman year 1995 DNQ
Sophomore year 1996 State Qualifier went 1-2
Junior year 1997 State Qualifier went 1-2
Senior Year 1998 State Runner-Up lost to Justin Stanley from Wilton…much respect for him!
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
My freshman year I took some major lumps. I think I lost around 25 matches that year…I feel that season helped me the most the rest of my career.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
I loved wrestling on my feet and taking people down. I loved working tilts on the top.
How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
I remember getting beat my sophomore year by Jeremy Hoyt from Clear Creek Amana, he was a Senior ranked 2nd in the state and I never got a chance to wrestle him again that season, he was injured and never came back 100%.
Another guy I wrestled was Jeremy Fulk (R.I.P.) who I went 1-1 against. He was a very tough wrestler and an even better person!
Who was your most influential coach?
Dean Happel was a great coach and helped me a ton. My Senior year Mike Mena came in the room and really helped get me tougher. Chris Lembeck was my head coach. These 3 guys really helped me my Senior year!
Was your team competitive in HS/college?
Believe it or not, our Lisbon team only had about 12 guys on the team when I was in high school. I never competed in college. It was tough winning duals with the small group we had.
Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
Tom Brands. Also, growing up the most influential wrestler/wrestlers had to be Shane, Zach and Ike light from Lisbon…grew up about a half mile away from them and loved watching them compete growing up!
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
High School: Quincy Happel, College: Austin Desanto
What tunes would you listen to back in the wrestling days?
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
It has to be the last match I ever wrestled against Justin Stanley in the State Finals Senior Year.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change a thing!
What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
Definitely wrestling on Saturday night in the Barn! I wanted to wrestle Stanley my Senior year! Win or lose, I wanted to try to beat one of the best! He was just better!! But I gave it a shot! That loss motivates me almost daily and I respect the hell out of Justin Stanley!
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
In high school I wrestled Eric Jurgens, Tim Ironside, Justin Stanley and many other studs! I never competed in College.
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
I played baseball, football, wrestled, and ran track so it was a 3 month out of the year thing for me. I would throw my wrestling shoes into the closet and grab the track spikes and move from season to season. I never really wrestled freestyle in the summer because we were pretty good at baseball.
How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
I would like to think we could give some of these young bucks a good battle.
Did you wrestle after high school?
What other sports did you play?
Football, Baseball, Track
What are your favorite sports teams?
Lisbon Lions, Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Vikings
What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
I like to play as much golf as I can!
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
I am thankful for my wrestling experience and for the coaches I had while competing. Those experiences and people helped shape me into who I am today.
What do you do now?
I am a service technician/installer for a Soft Water business in Mount Vernon called Neals Soft Water. I install Iron/Sulfur removal units, Water Softener’s, and reverse osmosis drinking systems. I am also the Head Boys and Girls track and field coach at Lisbon. This spring will be my 9th season and 8th as the head coach for the boys and 1st as head coach for the girls. The boys were state champions in 2015, 2016, 2017. I love working with the athletes! My wife Laura owns/runs a Salon in downtown Lisbon. We have 3 beautiful daughters Madison(20), Brynnley(16), and Kennedy(13) that also keep us on our toes and busy!
Are you still involved with wrestling?
Just watch a bunch of it!
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
Keep working hard and never give up on yourself.
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia?
Coach Dean Happel is now one of my assistant coaches for the Lisbon boys and girls track and field teams.